The real name:
According to some
mafiosi, the real name of the Mafia is "Cosa
Many have claimed, as
did the Mafia turncoat Tommaso Buscetta, that the
word "mafia" was a literary creation.
Other Mafia defectors,
such as Antonio Calderone and Salvatore Contorno,
said the same thing.
According to them, the
real thing was "cosa nostra". To men of honour
belonging to the organization, there is no need to
Mafiosi introduce known
members to other known members as belonging to "cosa
nostra" (our thing) or
la stessa cosa
(the same thing), meaning "he is the same thing, a
mafioso, as you".
Only the outside world
needs a name to describe it, hence the capitalized
form "Cosa Nostra".
Cosa Nostra was first
used, in the early 1960s, in the United States by
Joseph Valachi, a mafioso turned state witness,
during the hearings of the McClellan Commission.
At the time, it was
understood as a proper name, fostered by the FBI and
disseminated by the media.
The designation gained
wide popularity and almost replaced the term Mafia.
The FBI even added an
article to the term, calling it 'La Cosa Nostra'.
In Italy the article
'la' is never used when the term refers to the
Rituals of Sicilian Cosa
The orientation ritual
in most families happens when a man becomes an
associate, and then, a soldier.
As described by Tommaso
Buscetta to judge Giovanni Falcone, the neophyte is
brought together with at least three "men of honor"
of the family and the oldest member present warns
him that "this House" is meant to protect the weak
against the abuse of the powerful; he then pricks
the finger of the initiate and spills his blood onto
a sacred image, usually of a saint.
The image is placed in
the hand of the initiate and lit on fire.
The neophyte must
withstand the pain of the burning, passing the image
from hand to hand, until the image has been
consumed, while swearing to keep faith with the
principles of "Cosa Nostra," solemnly swearing "may
my flesh burn like this saint if I fail to keep my
Joseph Valachi was the
first person to mention that in court.
The Sicilians also have
a law of silence, called omertÃ ; it forbids the
common man, woman or child to cooperate at all with
the police or the government, upon pain of death.
Origins of Sicilian Cosa
It has long been debated
whether the mafia has medieval origins. Deceased
Tommaso Buscetta thought so, whilst modern scholars
now believe otherwise.
It is possible that the
"original" mafia formed as a secret society sworn to
protect the Sicilian population from the threat of
Catalan marauders in the fifteenth century.
However, there is very
little historical evidence to suggest this. It is
also feasible that the "Robin Hood" myth was
perpetuated by the earliest known
as a means of gaining goodwill and trust from the
After the Revolution of
1848 and the revolution of 1860, Sicily had fallen
to complete disorder. The earliest mafiosi, at that
time separate, small bands of outlaws, offered their
guns in the revolt.
Author John Dickie
claims that the main reasons for this were the
chance to burn police records and evidence, and to
kill off police and pentiti in the chaos. However,
once a new government was established in Rome and it
became clear that the mafia would be unable to
execute these actions, they began refining their
methods and techniques over the latter half of the
Protecting the large
lemon groves and estates of local nobility became a
lucrative but dangerous business.
Palermo was initially
the main area of these activities, but the Sicilian
mafia's dominance soon spread over all of western
In order to strengthen
the bond between the disparate gangs and so ensure
greater profits and a safer working environment, it
is possible that the mafia as such was formed at
this time in about the mid-19th century.
Mafia after the
unification of Italy
From 1860, the year when
the new unified Italian state first took over both
Sicily and the Papal States, the Popes were hostile
to the state.
From 1870, the Pope
declared himself besieged by the Italian state and
strongly encouraged Catholics to refuse to cooperate
with the state.
Broadly speaking, in
mainland Italy, this did not lead to violence.
Sicily was strongly
Catholic, but in a strongly tribal sense rather than
in an intellectual and theological sense, and had a
tradition of suspicion of outsiders.
The friction between the
Church and the state gave a great advantage to
violent criminal bands in Sicily who could claim to
peasants and townspeople that cooperating with the
police (representing the new Italian state) was an
It was in the two
decades following the 1860 unification that the term
Mafia came to the attention of the general public,
although it was considered to be more of an attitude
and value system than an organization.
The first mention in
official law documentation of the 'mafia' came in
the late 1800s, when a Dr. Galati was subject to
threats of violence from a local mafioso, who was
attempting to oust Galati from his own lemon grove
in order to move himself in.
cattle rustling and bribery of state officials were
the main sources of income and protection for the
Cosa Nostra also
borrowed heavily from masonic oaths and rituals,
such as the now famous initiation ceremony.
During the Fascist
period in Italy, Cesare Mori, prefect of Palermo,
used special powers granted to him to prosecute the
Mafia, forcing many Mafiosi to flee abroad or risk
Many of the Mafiosi who
escaped fled to the United States, among them Joseph
Bonanno, nicknamed Joe Bananas, who came to dominate
the U.S. branch of the Mafia.
However, when Mori
started to persecute the Mafiosi involved in the
Fascist hierarchy, he was removed, and the Fascist
authorities proclaimed that the Mafia had been
Though the mafia was
weakened, it had not been defeated as claimed.
Despite his assault on
their brethren, Mussolini had his admirers in the
New York Mafia, notably Vito Genovese (although he
was from Naples and not from Sicily).
After Fascism, the Mafia
did not become powerful in Italy again until after
the country's surrender in World War II and the U.S.
The United States used
Italian connections of American Mafiosi during the
invasion of Italy and Sicily in 1943. Lucky Luciano
and other Mafiosi, who had been imprisoned during
this time in the U.S., provided information for U.S.
military intelligence and used Luciano's influence
to ease the way for advancing troops. Furthermore,
Luciano's control of the ports prevented sabotage by
agents of the Axis powers. Some say that the U.S.
Offices deliberately allowed the mafia to recover its social
and economic position as the "anti-State" in Sicily,
and with the U.S.-mafia alliance forged in 1943,
this became the true turning point of mafia history
and the new foundation for its subsequent 60-year
career. Others, such as the
Palermitan historian Francesco Renda, have argued
that there was no such alliance. Rather, the mafia
exploited the chaos of post-fascist Sicily to
reconquer its social base. The OSS indeed, in its
1944 "Report on the Problem of Mafia" by the agent
W. E. Scotten, pointed to the signs of mafia
resurgence and warned of its perils for social order
and economic progress. An alleged additional benefit
was that many of the
Sicilian-Italian Mafiosi were hard-line
anti-communists. They were therefore seen as
valuable allies by the anti-communist Americans, who
allegedly used them to root out socialist and
communist elements in the American shipping industry
as well as wartime resistance movements and postwar
local and regional governments in areas where the
Mafia held sway. According to drug trade
expert Dr. Alfred W. McCoy, Luciano was permitted to
run his crime network from his jail cell in exchange
for his assistance. After the war, Luciano was
rewarded by being released from prison and deported
to Italy, where he was able to continue his criminal
career unhindered. He went to Sicily in
1946 to continue his activities and according to
McCoy's landmark 1972 book
The Politics of Heroin
in South-East Asia,
Luciano went on to forge a crucial alliance with the
Corsican Mafia, leading to the development of a vast
international heroin trafficking network, initially
supplied from Turkey and based in Marseille - the
so-called "French Connection". Later, when Turkey began
to eliminate its opium production, he used his
connections with the Corsicans to open a dialogue
with expatriate Corsican mafiosi in South Vietnam. In collaboration with
leading American mob bosses including Santo
Trafficante Jr., Luciano and his successors took
advantage of the chaotic conditions in Southeast
Asia arising from the Vietnam War to establish an
unassailable supply and distribution base in the
Maxi Trial and war against the
Second Mafia War in the early 1980s was a large scale
conflict within the Mafia that also led to the
assassinations of several politicians, police chiefs and
magistrates. Salvatore Riina and his Corleonesi faction
ultimately prevailed in the war. The new generation of mafiosi
placed more emphasis on "white-collar" criminal activity as
opposed to more traditional racketeering enterprises. In reaction to these
developments, the Italian press has come up with the phrase
("the new thing", a play on
to refer to the revamped organization. The first major
(a captured mafioso to collaborate with the judicial system)
was Tommaso Buscetta who had lost several allies in the war and began to talk to
prosecutor Giovanni Falcone around 1983. This led to the Maxi Trial
(1986-1987) which resulted in several hundred convictions of
leading mafiosi. When the Italian Supreme Court
confirmed the convictions in January 1992, Riina took
revenge. The politician Salvatore Lima was killed in March 1992; he had long been
suspected of being the main government connection of the
Mafia (later confirmed by testimony of Buscetta), and the Mafia was
clearly displeased with his services. Falcone and fellow anti-Mafia
prosecutor Paolo Borsellino were killed a few months later.
This led to a public outcry and a massive government crackdown, resulting
in Riina's arrest in January 1993. More and more
started to emerge. Many would pay a high price for their
co-operation usually through the murder of relatives. For example, Cosa Nostra defector
Francesco Mannoia's mother, aunt and sister were murdered.
The Corleonesi retaliated with a
campaign of terrorism, a series of bombings against several
tourist spots on the Italian mainland: the Via dei Georgofili in Florence,
Via Palestro in Milan, and the Piazza San Giovanni in
Laterano and Via San Teodoro in Rome, which left 10 people dead and 93 injured and
caused severe damage to cultural heritage such as the Uffizi
Gallery. Bernardo Provenzano took over as
boss of the Corleonesi and halted this campaign and replaced
it with a campaign of quietness known as
This campaign has allowed the Mafia to slowly regain the
power it once had. He was arrested in 2006, after 43 years
on the run.
The modern Mafia in Italy
The main split in the Sicilian
Mafia at present is between those bosses who have been
convicted and are now imprisoned, chiefly Riina and
capo di tutti capi
Bernardo Provenzano, and those who are on the run. The incarcerated bosses are
currently subjected to harsh controls on their contact with
the outside world under the Italian law 41 bis. Antonino Giuffra' alleges that in 1993,
Cosa Nostra had direct contact with
representatives of Silvio Berlusconi who was then planning
the birth of Forza Italia. The deal that he says was alleged
to have been made was a repeal of 41 bis, among
other anti-Mafia laws in return for electoral
deliverances in Sicily. Giuffra's declarations have
not been confirmed. However, according to one of
Italy's leading magazines, L'Espresso, 119 mafiosi -
one-fifth of those incarcerated under the 41 bis regime -
have been released on an individual basis. The human rights group Amnesty
International has expressed concern that the 41-bis regime
could in some circumstances amount to "cruel, inhumane or
degrading treatment" for prisoners. In addition to Salvatore Lima,
the politician Giulio Andreotti and the
High Court judge Corrado Carnevale have long been suspected
of having ties to the Mafia. By the late 1990s, the weakened
Cosa Nostra had to yield most of the illegal drug trade to
the 'Ndrangheta crime organization from Calabria. In 2006, the latter was estimated
to control 80% of the cocaine import to Europe. The mafia also have a strong
business in extortion.
It estimates that 7% of Italy's output is filtered off by
organised crime. The Mafia has turned into one of Italy's
biggest business enterprises with a turnover of more than
US$ 120bn a year.
In November 2007 Sicilian police
reported to have found a list of "Ten Commandments" in the
hideout of mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo.
Similar to the Biblical Ten Commandments, they are thought
to be a guideline on how to be a good mobster. The
commandments are as follows:
1. None can
present himself directly to another of our friends. There
must be a 3rd person to do it.
2. Never look at
the wives of friends.
3. Never be seen
4. Don't go to
pubs and clubs.
5. Always being
available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's
about to give birth.
must absolutely be respected.
7. Wives must be
treated with respect.
8. When asked
for any information, the answer must be the truth.
9. Money cannot
be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other
10. People who
can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close
relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in
the family, anyone who
behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.
Prominent Sicilian mafiosi
Vito Cascio Ferro (1862-1943),
prominent early Don, imprisoned by Cesare Mori.
Calogero Vizzini (1877-1954),
he was considered
to be one of the most influential Mafia bosses of Sicily
after World War II until his death in 1954.
Giuseppe Genco Russo (1893-1976),
Mussomeli, considered to be the heir of Calogero Vizzini.
Michele Navarra (1905-1958),
boss of the Mafia
Family in Corleone from 1930 to 1958.
Salvatore "Ciaschiteddu" Greco
was the first "secretary" of the first Sicilian Mafia
Commission that was formed somewhere in 1958.
Gaetano Badalamenti (1923-2004),
boss of the Mafia
Family in Cinisi.
Angelo La Barbera (1924-1975),
boss of the Mafia
Family in Palermo Centro.
Michele Greco (born 1924),
also known as "The
Pope", boss of the Mafia Family in Croceverde.
Luciano Liggio (1925-1993),
boss of the Mafia
Family in Corleone.
Tommaso Buscetta (1928-2000),
he became a
pentito (informant) in 1984. Buscetta's evidence was used to
great effect during the Maxi-Trials.
Salvatore Riina (born 1930),
also known as TotÃ² Riina is one
of the most infamous members of the Sicilian Mafia.
He was nicknamed
The Beast, or The Short One ('U Curtu in Sicilian) and ruled
the Mafia with an iron hand from the 1980s until his arrest
Bernardo Provenzano (born 1933),
Riina at the head of the Corleonesi and as such considered
one of the most powerful bosses of the
Sicilian Mafia. Provenzano was a fugitive from justice since
1963. He was captured on 11 April 2006 in Sicily.
Leoluca Bagarella (born 1941),
member of the
Mafia Family in Corleone arrested in 1995.
Salvatore Lo Piccolo (born 1942),
considered to be
one of the successors of Provenzano.
Giovanni 'Lo Scannacristiani'
Brusca (born 1957),
who was involved in the murder of
Matteo Messina Denaro (born
to be one of the successors of Provenzano.
Benedetto Santapaola (born 1938),
important boss of Catania.
1. Capo di Tutti Capi
(the "Boss of All Bosses", namely Matteo Messina Denaro for
the Sicilian Mafia and Renato Gagliano for the Sacra Corona
2. Capo di Capi Re
(a title of respect given to a senior or retired member,
equivalent to being a
literally, "King Boss of Bosses")
3. Capo Crimine
("Crime Boss", known as a Don - the head of a crime family)
4. Capo Bastone
("Club Head", known as the "Underboss" is second in command
to the Capo Crimine)
("Regime head", a captain who commands a "crew" of around
7. Sgarrista or Soldato
("Soldier", made members of the Mafia who serve primarily as
("Little man", a low ranking member who serves as an
9. Giovane D'Onore
(an associate member, usually someone not of Italian
Italian Mafia structure
3. Sotto Capo
5. Uomini D'onore
("Men of Honor")
American Cosa Nostra
The Italian Mafia continues to
dominate organized crime in the U.S. It uses this status to
maintain control over much of both Chicago's and New York
City's organized criminal activity, as
well as criminal activity in other cities in the Northeast
and across the country, such as Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and
The Mafia and its reputation have
become entrenched in American popular culture, being
portrayed in movies, TV shows, commercial advertising and
The American Mafia, specifically
the Five Families of New York, has its roots in the Sicilian
Mafia, but has been a separate organization in the United
States for many years.
Today, American Cosa Nostra
cooperates in various criminal activities with the different
Italian organized crime groups, such as Camorra, which are headquartered in Italy.
It is wrongly known as the
"original Mafia", although it was neither the oldest
criminal organization, nor the first to act in the U.S.
In 1986, according to government
reports, it was estimated that there are 1,700 members of
"Cosa Nostra" and thousands of associate members.
Reports also are said to include
the Italian-American Mafia as the largest organized crime
group in the United States and continues to hold dominance
over the National Crime Syndicate,
despite the increasing numbers of street gangs and other
organizations of neither Italian nor Sicilian ethnicity.
American Cosa Nostra is most
active in the New York metropolitan area, Philadelphia, New
England, Detroit, and Chicago, but there are actually a
total of 26 Cosa Nostra family cities
around the United States.
Origins: The Black Hand
Mafia groups in the United States
first became influential in the New York City area,
progressing from small neighborhood operations in
poor Italian ghettos to citywide and eventually
international organizations. The American Mafia started with
the La Mano Nera, "The Black Hand", extorting Italians (and
other immigrants) around New York city. Black Hand gangsters
would threaten them by mail if their extortion demands were
not met. The threats were sometimes marked
with a hand-print in black ink at the bottom of the page. As more Sicilian gangsters
immigrated to the U.S., they expanded their criminal
activities from extortion to loan-sharking, prostitution,
drugs and alcohol, robbery, kidnapping, and murder. Giuseppe Esposito was the first
known Sicilian Mafia member to emigrate to the United
States. He and six other Sicilians fled to New York after
murdering eleven wealthy landowners as well as the
chancellor and a vice chancellor of a Sicilian province. He was arrested in New Orleans in
1881 and extradited to Italy. New Orleans was also the site of
the first Mafia incident in the United States that received
both national and international attention. On October 15,
1890, New Orleans Police Superintendent David Hennessey was
murdered execution-style. Hundreds of Sicilians were
arrested, and nineteen were eventually indicted for the
murder. An acquittal followed, with rumors of bribed and
intimidated witnesses. The outraged citizens of New Orleans
organized a lynch mob and proceeded to kill eleven of the
nineteen defendants. Two were hanged, nine were shot,
and the remaining eight escaped. In the 1910s and 1920s in
New York City, the Sicilian Mafia developed into the Five
The rising: the
Mafia activities were restricted
until 1920, when they exploded because of the introduction
of the prohibition.
Al Capone's Syndicate in the
1920s ruled Chicago.
By the end of the 1920s, two
factions of organized crime had emerged, causing the
Castellamarese war for control of organized crime in New
With the murder of Joseph
Masseria, the leader of one of the factions, the war ended
uniting the two sides back into one organization now dubbed Cosa Nostra.
Salvatore Maranzano, the first
leader of American Mafia, was himself murdered within six
months and Charles "Lucky" Luciano became the new leader.
Maranzano had established the
code of conduct for the organization, set up the "family"
divisions and structure, and established procedures for resolving disputes.
Luciano set up the "Commission"
to rule their activities.
The Commission included bosses
from six or seven families.
In 1951, a U.S. Senate Committee,
led by Democratic Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver,
determined that a "sinister criminal organization", with
ties to the USSR, also known as the Mafia
operated around the United States.
In 1957, the New York State
Police uncovered a meeting of major American Cosa Nostra
figures from around the country in the small upstate New
York town of Apalachin.
This gathering has become known
as the Apalachin Conference. Many of the attendees were
arrested and this event was the catalyst that changed the
way law enforcement battles organized crime.
In 1963, Joseph Valachi became
the first American Cosa Nostra member to provide a detailed
look at the inside of the organization.
Having been recruited by FBI
Special Agents, and testifying before the US Senate
McClellan Committee, Valachi exposed the name, structure,
power bases, codes, swearing-in ceremony, and members of
All of this had been secret up to
Today Cosa Nostra is involved in
a broad spectrum of illegal activities: murder, extortion,
drug trafficking, corruption of public officials, gambling,
prostitution, pornography, infiltration of legitimate
businesses, labor racketeering, loan sharking, tax fraud
schemes and most notably today, stock manipulation schemes.
In the mid-20th century, the
Mafia was reputed to have infiltrated many labor unions in
the United States, notably the Teamsters, whose president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared
and it is widely believed to have been murdered in
Jimmy Hoffa was an American labor
and criminal convict.
As the president of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters from the mid-1950s to
the mid-1960s, Hoffa wielded considerable influence.
After he was convicted of
attempted bribery of a grand juror, he served nearly a
decade in prison.
He is also well-known in popular
culture for the mysterious circumstances surrounding his
unexplained disappearance and presumed death.
His son James P. Hoffa is the
current president of the Teamsters.
In the 1980s, the United States
federal government made a determined effort to remove Mafia
influence from labor unions.
The Mafia had eventually expanded
to twenty-six crime families nationwide in the major cities
of the United States, with the center of organized crime
based in New York. After many turf wars, the Five Families ended up dominating
New York, named after prominent early members: the Bonanno
family, the Colombo family, the Gambino family, the Genovese
family, and the Lucchese family.
These families held underground conferences with other mafia
notables like Joe Porrello from Cleveland, and other gang
leaders, such as Al Capone.
Boss - The head
of the family, usually reigning as a dictator, sometimes
called the don or "godfather". The Boss receives a cut of
every operation taken on by every member of his family.
Depending on the Family, the Boss may be chosen by a vote
from the Caporegimes of the family. In the event of a tie,
the Underboss must vote. In the past, all the members of a
Family voted on the Boss, but by the late 1950s, any
gathering such as that attracted too much attention.
Underboss - The
Underboss, usually appointed by the Boss, is the second in
command of the family. The Underboss is in charge of all of
the Capos, who
are controlled by the Boss. The Underboss is usually first
in line to become Acting Boss if the Boss is imprisoned or
The Consigliere is an advisor to the family. They are often
low profile gangsters that can be trusted. They are used as
a mediator of disputes
or representatives or aides in meetings with other Families.
They often keep the Family looking as legitimate as
possible, and are, themselves, legitimate apart from some
minor gambling or loan sharking. Often Consiglieres are
lawyers or stock brokers, are trusted and have a close
friendship or relationship
with the Don. They usually do not have crews of their own,
but still wield great power in the Family. They are also
often the liaison between the Don and important 'bought'
figures, such as politicians or Judges.
Caporegime - (or
Capo)- A Capo (sometimes called a Captain) is in charge of a
crew. There are usually four to six crews in each family,
possibly even seven to nine crews, each one consisting of up
to ten Soldiers. Capos run their own small family, but must
follow the limitations and guidelines created by the Boss,
as well as pay him his cut of their profits.
Capos are nominated by the Underboss, but typically chosen
by the Boss himself.
Soldiers are members of the family, and can only be of
Italian background. Soldiers start as Associates that have
proven themselves. When the books are open, meaning that
there is an open spot in the family, a Capo (or several
Capos) may recommend an up-and-coming Associate to be a new
member. In the case that there is only one slot and multiple
recommendations, the Boss will decide. The new member
usually becomes part of the Capo's crew that recommended
him. Sometimes a soldier will be called a
because, in theory, when a capo presses a button, someone
dies. They are also called
who have made their
bones, by committing
a murder in front of Mafia witnesses.
This ensures the soldier's reliability: he will never
testify against a man who could testify against him. Being
made is the beginning but not the end of a Mafia career.
(The definitions of
made man and
making one's bones
are inferred: Most books on the Mafia-fiction or
nonfiction-assume these terms but never define them.)
Associate - An
Associate is not a member of the mob, and an Associate's
role is more similar to that of an errand boy. They are
usually a go-between or sometimes deal in drugs to keep the
heat off the actual members. In other cases, an associate
might be a corrupt labor union delegate or businessman.
Non-Italians will never go any further than this.
However, occasionally an associate will become powerful
within his own family, for example Joe Watts, a close
associate of John Gotti.
American Mafia's organizational structure and system of
control were created by Salvatore Maranzano (who became the
first "capo di tutti capi" in the US, though he was killed
after holding the position for only six months, by Lucky
Luciano). Most recently there have been two new positions in
the family leadership: the family messenger and Street Boss.
These positions were created by former Genovese leader
Vincent Gigante. Each faction was headed by a
who reported to the boss. When the boss made a decision, he
never issued orders directly to the soldiers who would carry
it out, but instead passed instructions down through the
chain of command. In this way, the higher levels of the
organization were effectively insulated from incrimination
if a lower level member should be captured by law
enforcement. This structure is depicted in Mario Puzo's
famous novel The
The Godfather: Part
II, These links are
called "buffers": they provide what the intelligence
community calls plausible deniability.
The initiation ritual emerged
from various sources, such as Catholic confraternities and
Masonic Lodges in mid-nineteenth century Sicily and has
hardly changed to this day.
The Chief of Police of Palermo in 1875 reported that the man
of honor to be initiated would be led into the presence of a
group of bosses and underbosses.
One of these men would prick the initiate's arm or hand and
tell him to smear the blood onto a sacred image, usually a
The oath of loyalty would be taken as the image was burned
and scattered, thus symbolising the annihilation of
This was confirmed by the first pentito, Tommaso Buscetta.
A hit, or assassination, of a "made" man had to be
preapproved by the leadership of his family, or retaliatory
hits would be made, possibly inciting a war.
In a state of war, families would
go to the mattresses
- rent vacant apartments and have a number of soldiers
sleeping on mattresses on the floor in
shifts, with the others ready at the windows to fire at
members of rival families.
Symbolism in murders
There are many symbolic deeds
done during certain gangland executions that are requested
by the don.
For allowing Joseph Pistone into
the Bonanno crime family caporegime Dominick Napolitano had
his hands severed.
Later during the attempted murder
of Joseph Ianuzzi this is what Tommy Agro attempted to do.
As in the murder of Lucchese
crime family soldier Bruno Facciola, a dead canary was
stuffed inside his mouth after he was shot to death.
A mobster who was thought to be
skimming from gambling profits was shot dead and found with
a twenty-dollar bill shoved into his rectum.
Frank Abbandando J. gave a
powerful capo in the Colombo crime family the middle finger
and although his life was spared, his middle fingers were severed by a dull knife and sent
to him preserved in vinegar.
Prominent Italian American
Al Capone 'Scarface'
(1899-1947): Prohibition Chicago Boss
Charles Luciano 'Lucky'
(1897-1962): New York Boss. Founder of Modern
American Mafia. First Boss of the Genovese Family
Joe Bonanno 'Joe Bananas'
(1905-2002): First Boss of the Bonanno Family
Carlo Gambino 'Don Carlo'
(1902-1976): Boss expander of the Gambino crime
family. Seen as the Chairman of the Commission since
Gaetano Gagliano 'Tommy'
(1884-1951): First Boss of the Lucchese Family
(1888-1951): First Boss of the Gambino Family
Joe Profaci (1897-1962):
First Boss of the Colombo Family
Joe Valachi 'Joe Cargo'
(1903-1971): First Mafioso to turn informer
(1915-1985): Gambino Boss. Assassinated on the
orders of John Gotti
John Gotti 'The Dapper
Don' (1940-2002): Gambino Boss. Famous for
flamboyance and his media friendly attitude
(born 1943): Mob
turncoat immortalized in the film
Law Enforcement and the Mafia
In August 1960, Colonel Sheffield
Edwards, director of the CIA's Office of Security, proposed
the assassination of Cuban head of state Fidel Castro by
mafia assassins. Between August 1960 and April 1961, the
CIA, without the help of the Mafia, pursued a series of plots to poison or
shoot Castro. Those allegedly involved included Sam
Giancana, Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante, Jr. and John
Roselli. In several Mafia families,
killing a state authority is forbidden due to the
possibility of extreme police retaliation. The Jewish mobster Dutch Schultz was
reportedly killed by his Italian peers out of fear that he
would carry out a plan to kill New York City
prosecutor Thomas Dewey. New Orleans police officer Joe
Petrosino was shot by Sicilian mobsters in the U. S..
A statue of him was later erected across the street
from a Luchhese hangout. The RICO Act of the 1960s
made it a crime to belong to an organization that
performed illegal acts, and it created programs such
as the witness protection program. The Act only
began to come into frequent use during the late
70's. Charges of racketeering convicted scores of
mobsters including 2 of New York's Godfathers
(Anthony Corallo and Carmine Persico) during the
Commission Case in 1985. The Act continued to be used to
great effect up to the end of the 20th century and hurt the
Mob severely. The establishment of the United States
Organized Crime Strike Force made it more possible to find
and prosecute the Mafia. The United States Organized Crime
Strike Force was established in the 1970's by a joint
congressional effort led by Robert Kennedy. The Strike Force
was under the Office of the the Inspector General in the
Department of Labor. It was disbanded at the National Level,
but continues at the state and local level today. It was
jointly responsible for investigating and eventually helping
to bring down high level Mafiosos such as Joseph
Aiuppa of the the Chicago Outfit, Anthony Salerno of
the Genovese Family of New York and Paul Castellano
of the Gambino Family. Also the Strike Force took
down and cleaned up much of the Organized Crime in
The Teamsters across the country, However the Mafia
is still the dominant organized crime group in the
United States. According to Selwyn Raab, author
Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's
Most Powerful Mafia Empires,
after 9/11 the FBI has redirected most of its attention to
finding terrorists, which contributed to a resurgence of
Mafia activity in the U.S.